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crowley_greene
09-17-2006, 01:44 PM
As I've begun making my way back into the historian lifestyle after a couple of years away, I again find myself pondering the "politics" that we seem to find almost essential -- in any life pursuit -- to give our lives "meaning" (?).

Oh, certainly all of us on this board see expressions of passionate feelings about our respective approaches to this lifestyle. But in my own life observations, those debates and disagreements certainly don't confine themselves to living history.

For instance . . . some 20 years ago I was an avid woodcarver, and participated in a very active and large-scale woodcarving community in the Dallas area, hundreds of excellent carvers. At large shows I attended, there was a distinct rift between (of all things) the "authentic" carvers (birds, animals, other sculptures) and the "humorous caricature" folk carvers. They would hardly even speak to each other, and there was certainly the derogatory talk that went on within their own respective circles about the other "side."

I'm an artist -- and on a particular artists' web site discussion board where I participate, sometimes the flames grow and fly between and among artistic types. I'm a violinist/fiddler, and the same holds true among musicians on a discussion board I visit and post in sometimes.

Gosh, I can better understand the passions behind the politics of the Republican and Democratic parties, or topics of our faiths and beliefs that reflect who we are in our very cores. Or perhaps we can even justifiably find ourselves greatly agitated over differences in management styles (or management competence) in the organizations that provide our livelihoods.

But are our hobbies such integral parts of our cores? Or conversely, do perhaps our core values lead us into our hobbies? It's just that sometimes when I see the disputes that flare up from embers in various hobbies, I find myself almost having "Get a life" thoughts.

What is it about our human condition? It can almost be sad sometimes.

crowley_greene
09-17-2006, 01:55 PM
The more I think about the content of this post, I think it more appropriately belongs in "The Whine Cellar." I've sent a message asking to have it moved.

indguard
09-17-2006, 02:51 PM
It's is simply the human condition.

At the root it is selfishness, but it happens in ALL areas of human interaction. From the workplace, to Church, to sports, to community clubs and policits.

It's just the way it is.

hanktrent
09-17-2006, 02:52 PM
When the phrase "get a life" is used, I've found it can usually be translated to mean: "Stop caring about what you care about, and start caring about what I care about."

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

crowley_greene
09-17-2006, 03:47 PM
When the phrase "get a life" is used, I've found it can usually be translated to mean: "Stop caring about what you care about, and start caring about what I care about."

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net
That's an interesting point, Hank. I didn't mean for the cliche to be perceived through that kind of filter. I guess I never really thought of it like that. Perhaps for myself, I think of the three words meaning "Why don't we invest our energies into caring about things that *really* impact our physical and spiritual well-being and safety?" But . . . your translation may just support my quote. Hmmmm. I'm going out to walk the dogs now, and ponder that translation. :)

bill watson
09-17-2006, 05:17 PM
I'm not sure I understand what the problem is.

Any time you are in an endeavor in which decisions have to be made, the process of "politics" comes into play whenever more than one person is involved. Politics is the process by which the ability to make decisions affecting everyone is authorized; it's the rules for rulemaking.

Civil War reenacting is perhaps unique in that its participants have opted for anarchy rather than order, apparently under the theory that if no one can make binding decisions, it's better than taking a chance on a bad decisionmaker.

tompritchett
09-17-2006, 06:36 PM
Civil War reenacting is perhaps unique in that its participants have opted for anarchy rather than order, apparently under the theory that if no one can make binding decisions, it's better than taking a chance on a bad decisionmaker.

From an historical point of view, it also sounds like 1) the reasoning behind the initial Articles of Confederation, and then a lot like Jefferson's thoughts about the balance of powers and the overall weakness of the Federal government under the "new" Constitution.

TeamsterPhil
09-17-2006, 06:39 PM
Civil War reenacting is perhaps unique in that its participants have opted for anarchy rather than order, apparently under the theory that if no one can make binding decisions, it's better than taking a chance on a bad decisionmaker.

There is an "oganization" that has chosen anarchy rather than order. It began 71 years ago in a small house in Akron, Ohio (I KNEW there was something in the water in Ohio). http://www.drbobshome.org/images/dbobhouse02.jpg

This organization has no governing body that has ANY real outhority of any of its members and has been growing from day one. The one thing that it has that we don't is an agreed upon SINGLE purpose.

Phil Campbell

yankeecav
09-17-2006, 07:13 PM
Actually, I think the internal politics of the hobby, ie, all of the backbiting, flaming, stupid non-sense is the only thing about the Civil War that reenactors get 100% historically correct.

Think about all of the internal rivalries that existed between officers north and south. Within the administrations of Lincoln and Davis. West Point vs. non-West Point. East vs. West, etc., etc.

The internal rivalries that destroyed commands, lost battles, and killed men unnecessarily because of over-inflated egos.

Let's face it guys, the bickering is the one thing we get right all the time!

MStuart
09-17-2006, 07:53 PM
Actually, I think the internal politics of the hobby, ie, all of the backbiting, flaming, stupid non-sense is the only thing about the Civil War that reenactors get 100% historically correct.
Let's face it guys, the bickering is the one thing we get right all the time!

Sadly, he's right.

Mark

bill watson
09-17-2006, 07:56 PM
Two points in this, one about "politics" and the other about Phil's excellent insight.

Backbiting, flaming and stupid nonsense aren't politics. They may be the tactics of some politicians, but they may also just be hobbies in themselves for people who enjoy backbiting, flaming and being stupid, here and in the real world too.

I keep having this conversation with folks in the real world. If one is asked, "Is it important to take your part in making decisions about who we are and where we're going?" the answer is always yes. What people call, in a shorthand fashion, "politics," is usually what you described, backbiting, flaming and stupidity, plus lying, posturing and playing on people's emotions. And the ones who really get everyone worked up are the people who just want to get elected, with no sense that they are then supposed to make important decisions about who we are and where we're going.

It's pretty much pointless to get upset about a decisionmaking process. It's the people who abuse our emotions and insult our intellect who deserve the condemnation, not the process itself. And, yes, they exist in the real world and in this little one of ours.

Far more to the point, Phil is exactly right when he notes that the group he cited had one thing we don't, an agreed-upon single purpose.

Reenacting certainly started with a single purpose. 20th Century Civil War reenacting launched around one purpose, depicting history. It had to do with experiencing some of the sights and sounds of the Civil War soldier. It was about the experience of the Civil War. It was not started so families could camp together. It was not started so people without meaning in their lives could become officers and give orders. It was not started to bolster a modern political agenda opposing Federalism. It was not started so men could have a sanctuary away from women. And it was not started so entrepreneurial event promoters could make money like some kind of bottom-feeding venture capitalists.

It was all about the experience itself, about how to at least stand in the shadow of Civil War soldiers. It probably sprang out of people asking themselves questions like, "Wonder what it really looked like?" "Wonder how they could do that?" and similar simple yet profound questions. And since a lot of people thought the Civil War itself was significant, important, intriguing and in its own way breathtaking, they started trying to depict it in order to know it and show it, to learn it by experiencing it.

If we could ever all agree, once again, that that is what it's about, we'd be able to field fully operational divisions. The anarchy wouldn't matter. But that original purpose has been hijacked by a variety of other agendas.

The one thing I hear more than anything else after refugees from funnel cake events have tried history-heavy events, where units are operational more of the time, is "this is what we thought it was going to be about when we first joined up." They're delighted to find folks who truly are focused on the experience itself, including its quality and duration during a weekend. I'm convinced we could revolutionize reenacting simply by offering more events that are totally focused on the reenactors experience as a soldier or civilian, and nothing else.

The purpose of reenacting is reenacting; it's about the experience. You do it for its own sake, and the measure of doing that is how much of a weekend you spend doing things soldiers would have done. If you do it for any other reason, you're not reenacting, you're doing something else. Might be fun, but it's not reenacting.

It's not that hard. It's a question of attitudes and activities.

Provost
09-17-2006, 10:40 PM
And that's where it now is. Thanks for being so thoughtful about this.

Provost

flattop32355
09-18-2006, 12:22 AM
It's pretty much pointless to get upset about a decisionmaking process. It's the people who abuse our emotions and insult our intellect who deserve the condemnation, not the process itself. And, yes, they exist in the real world and in this little one of ours.

I'm gonna have to disagree with you to some extent here. It's probably more a matter of semantics, but I put a definite difference in the meanings of the words "government" and "politics".

Government, or governing, to my mind is the process of doing what is needed to run an organization, town, country, etc. It requires public servants, some of whom grow to be statesmen and stateswomen, who put the good of the body above personal agenda. In fact, the good of the body becomes their personal agenda. It is a true decision-making process.

Politics, on the other hand, is to me the process of doing what is needed to get elected or, in its basest form, to keep the other side from getting elected or from accomplishing anything of value once elected. It is a game for strong minds with weak values and weak minds with no values. It has nothing directly to do with decision-making; rather, it has much to do with the prevention of making meaningful decisions.

One of the hardest things to accomplish is to get politicians to govern; it's just not in them. They haven't a clue how to do it, since their entire existance has been nothing but learning how to get into office and staying there. It should not surprise us at all to learn that they don't know what to do when they get into office except this.

It's also easy to turn a potentially good public servant into a politician, since that has become the national standard. It requires little effort, often only the apathy of the electorate, to accomplish this.

I've served in government and in organizations. I've seen what governing can do and what happens when politics takes governing's place. Watching strong values replaced by weak or non-existant ones is not a pretty sight.

As for our own little stretch of woods here in the hobby, you've got everything from anarchy to fiefdoms to dictatorships to representative government, depending upon what level you're talking about, whom you ask and where you are and whether you're on the inside or the outside.

Since most CW reenactors are a bit on the crazy/anti-authoritarian side, only fighting together when they're not fighting each other, maybe our "loose confederation" is the best we can hope for.

Guy Gane III
09-18-2006, 08:00 AM
I could go on about this till my fingers fell off...

Good advice given to me... "Don't let the politics get to you, you do this because you love it, let the posers who drum up politics dwell in their dark depths."

Do the research that involves YOUR aspect of your hobby. Not only is it fun, but most of us are willing to help along the way... just ask!

Sincerely,

DanSwitzer
09-18-2006, 01:19 PM
"Backbiting, flaming and stupid nonsense aren't politics. They may be the tactics of some politicians, but they may also just be hobbies in themselves for people who enjoy backbiting, flaming and being stupid, here and in the real world too."

I think this is true. I've seen too much of it for it not to be true. The internet allows for alot of "big men" behind these little screens. What happens is that these "big men" have all kinds of unpleasant and offensive things to say on the internet forums about people, units, events. When you actually finally meet them at events, they all but roll over and pee on themselves like a dog in its submissive posture. They smile. They want to shake your hand. They say how glad they are to finally meet you. They act like your long-lost friend. Frankly, a good many of them have no option but to roll over since they're mostly bearded, out of shape tubby guys who sit at work all day at some bureaucratic government job and cruise the net while taxpayers pay their salaries. These same guys probably also have the gall to complain about how they don't get paid enough and usually have a practice of floating every couple of years from one undemanding, entry level bureacratic job to another. Most times their hobby involvement is as an unsupervised, unaccountable "civilian" or a "teamster" ( usually without wagon :confused: ), supposedly working in a volunteer support role. I wonder if it's because these folks think they know so much that they refuse to serve under anyone else by just carrying a musket and following orders? :rolleyes: I think we may all have some ideas about the answer to that one.

"Big men." That's what this internet hobby is all about. Big men. BMOC. Big Man On Computer. Used to be "Big Man On Campus", I know.:rolleyes:

Dan
Did I just come up with another acronym for The Hobby? :eek:

TeamsterPhil
09-18-2006, 01:40 PM
I absolutely LOVE the nameless fingerpointing that occurs here on the faceless, psuedonym-filled internet.

Phil Campbell
This thread HAD some potential.

DanSwitzer
09-18-2006, 01:53 PM
"This thread HAD some potential."

And it still does. Names could be named, finger-pointing could be real specific, but the names don't really matter as they ( mostly ) change over time. It's the negative behavior that needs to be addressed. Or at least discussed with some ideas of avoiding the adverse influence of the BMOCs.

Even so, keeping our sights on the Civil War soldier's experience can and should be the focus of all our efforts. These BMOCs are all about themselves and creating controversy in order to keep themselves in the limelight as some sort of expert. Being the distractions that they are, I, for one, refuse to give them power and let them stand in the way of my soldier's experience, my "slice of life", as it were. My mantra is "how can I best obtain a Civil War experience at events I attend?"

Dan

yankeecav
09-18-2006, 02:11 PM
I would like to clarify a few things about my earlier post to avoid any confusion.

First, I was certainly not condoning the tactics cited in that post but merely pointing out the existence and wide-spread use of them by the appointed and self-appointed leaders of this hobby.

Second, that this type of behavior, while juvenile, is also human nature and I wanted to point out that it did in fact occur during the Civil War, a lot! A lot of people want to bicker back and forth about whether this or that is accurate and they may never change the other's mind but at least they are both getting the arguing accurate.

Third, in a hobby this size you will never get full agreement on what the sole purpose of the hobby will be. Regardless of how it began it is now different for many different people. This is kind of like when the Civil War began men joined for many different reasons: save the Union; free the slaves; because my wife made me; to get away from my wife; because the rest of my family joined; got drafted; to repel yankee invaders; state pride; family pride; because my girlfriend wanted me to; to save slavery; none of the above; all of the above. The point is that the men joined the same war for many different reasons and they argued about what the REAL reason to fight the war was.

Bottom line: I despise all the silly fighting and I wish it would stop. But it isn't because we are all sinful, prideful mortals and all have fallen short of His glory. Accept it. Try to be better. Then embrace it, all of it, for it is historically accurate. IT IS WHAT THE REAL SOLDIER EXPERIENCED. And after all, isn't that the real one purpose we should all be striving for.

DanSwitzer
09-18-2006, 02:24 PM
"IT IS WHAT THE REAL SOLDIER EXPERIENCED"

True, too true. Or, as the Aussie's might say "Crikey! Too right!"

Anyone remember reading about Bragg getting into a written argument with himself when he held two positions at the same Army post in the pre-war Army? That was in a day when correspondence was written on paper and real names were used since it was the real Army. So, maybe it is not too far fetched when we see people having arguments with themselves ( and others ) in a purely anonymous environment such as the internet. Heck, I've seen people post things on the internet who claimed to have attended an event when they drove home in a huff just so they could be the first to post a negative report on the event by Saturday evening. Things didn't go their way or they got lost or their prescription ran out.

I'm thinking this is equivalent to Sam Watkins saying something about John Barleycorn being present among the commanders in the AoT at certain battles. I guess it all boils down to "sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you're just drunk." I think we can do better in terms of events, but sometimes when things just go to Hades in a handbasket, you can just chalk it up to "the soldier's experience."

Would that be a good goal for all of us? It's all part of the soldier's experience.

Dan

tompritchett
09-18-2006, 03:01 PM
Names could be named, finger-pointing could be real specific

Hate to disappoint you but no they could not be as that violates the rules of this forum. Such posts will either be editted or, more likely, deleted.

tompritchett
09-18-2006, 03:06 PM
First, I was certainly not condoning the tactics cited in that post but merely pointing out the existence and wide-spread use of them by the appointed and self-appointed leaders of this hobby.

Second, that this type of behavior, while juvenile, is also human nature and I wanted to point out that it did in fact occur during the Civil War, a lot! A lot of people want to bicker back and forth about whether this or that is accurate and they may never change the other's mind but at least they are both getting the arguing accurate.

And it is occurring today with modern politics. What we are seeing in the hobby is just a reflection of what we are seeing in our nation as a whole. Therefore should we be surprised at the tactics and, sometimes mean spiritedness, that we see in different groups of the hobby?

crowley_greene
09-18-2006, 04:22 PM
"Frankly, a good many of them have no option but to roll over since they're mostly bearded, out of shape tubby guys who sit at work all day at some bureaucratic government job and cruise the net while taxpayers pay their salaries. These same guys probably also have the gall to complain about how they don't get paid enough"
Hmmm. I have a beard now, and at 59 years old weigh about about 20 pounds more than I'd like to. I'm on the faculty of a bureaucratic northeast Arkansas college, where I only get paid (by state taxpayer dollars) about half what I did when I was an engineer in industry for many years of my career -- not enough! :D

Oh, but at least I *DO* still consider myself in shape -- great interest in hiking/backpacking, and take three to five mile walks many days to keep my stamina up.

DanSwitzer
09-18-2006, 07:10 PM
Hmmm. I have a beard now, and at 59 years old weigh about about 20 pounds more than I'd like to. I'm on the faculty of a bureaucratic northeast Arkansas college, where I only get paid (by state taxpayer dollars) about half what I did when I was an engineer in industry for many years of my career -- not enough! :D

Oh, but at least I *DO* still consider myself in shape -- great interest in hiking/backpacking, and take three to five mile walks many days to keep my stamina up.

My point was that these guys I'm referring to go out of their way to insult, denigrate, alienate, challenge and otherwise engage in the kind of behavior that would justify the opening of a great big ole can of whuppass. They back down, back out, back up, back pedal and back off so no one takes them to the woodshed when they are finally met in person at an event. I don't recall you ever engaging in such challenging behavior here in this little internet living room. If you have, I must have missed it. You've been cordial and reasonable on all occasions.

As to violating rules about being specific, I think those are good rules and agree with them both here and elsewhere. I'd rather discuss behaviors and practices in general rather than personalities and individuals. I think we can all see who does what and sanction accordingly. I'd like to see a few of these people un-invited to events. That'd put a stop to their antics. Shunning was/is used because it works. If some of these folks were to get left off the guest list, there'd be damned sight less of the BS than there has been. Actions should have consequences. They do everywhere else. We need to make it so in this hobby for our mutual benefit and the improvement of the pastime.

Dan

bill watson
09-18-2006, 09:46 PM
"This is kind of like when the Civil War began men joined for many different reasons: save the Union; free the slaves; because my wife made me; to get away from my wife; because the rest of my family joined; got drafted; to repel yankee invaders; state pride; family pride; because my girlfriend wanted me to; to save slavery; none of the above; all of the above. The point is that the men joined the same war for many different reasons and they argued about what the REAL reason to fight the war was."

But there was only one thing they were there to do: fight. An army at war focuses all its parts on winning the fight, whether someone is a teamster or a soldier or a general or a clerk.

Just as there's one reason to reenact: reenact. Why you come to the table is one thing; what you do while you are at the table is another, and it's just one thing. Isn't it merely a question of focus? The focus of reenacting is reenacting. It's so obvious it's getting overlooked. Is this zen or something? I dunno. Seems pretty simple: How much of a weekend did you spend reenacting as opposed to eating from a cooler, walking sutler row, drinking beer from an aluminum can, etc.? We may never be able to line up all the activities that go into being in the 19th century, we may never achieve perfection in the depiction, we may never all know all the bugle calls, but it is within our power to say we'll spend 100 percent of our time at a reenactment reenacting. Simple and easy. It just requires events built around the experience and reenactors willing to embrace that. I'd say the pieces are all there for that to happen pretty quickly.

Not arguing, just dialoging. :-) I think it's worth pursuing, especially since focusing on the experience of reenacting the Civil War is how you get beyond reenactors who want to bring their hobby -- backbiting, etc. -- into this one. As Phil noted, anarchy doesn't matter if we are, when we are at the table, all about one thing.

yankeecav
09-18-2006, 10:53 PM
Bill,

I heartily agree with your last post. The big question is how do we get folks to set aside the differences and focus on the end result?

The real soldiers had several factors that allowed them to do that. One, they were in the army and had to stay or be charged as a deserter. Two, and this is probably the biggest, the guys on the other side were trying to kill them. In light of those two things it was, I would think, a little easier to put aside differences at least until the carnage was over. For them it was survival.

I am all for trying to minimize the differences but I don't believe it will ever go away entirely. So while trying to make things better I am also attempting to accept that some of it will always be here, just like the real soldiers had to put up with those types of things, and just keep fighting.

flattop32355
09-18-2006, 11:31 PM
The big question is how do we get folks to set aside the differences and focus on the end result?

You remember that it's not your job to dictate how others reenact. All you can reasonably control is how you, yourself, reenact.

Forget about whether the other guy has on combat boots or modern glasses or has a cooler beside his tent. Shake your head, smile, and get on with what you are about, which is doing the best job you can at being what they were. Anything else is wasted effort, gaining no one anything of value.

The other fellow isn't necessarily an anal opening; he's just not where you are at this particular time. Remember: You weren't always at this point, either. It took time to get here, and even now, you can still have cravings for funnel cake and trips down sutler row on occasion. So be willing to tolerate others, especially if they are within the minimum standards of the event. The only one who can screw things up for you is you.

And remember that, at the end of the day, we're all just farbs to one degree or another.

yankeecav
09-19-2006, 12:16 AM
Bernard,

I agree with your post as well. I thought I had more or less said the same thing at the end of my last post but I appreciate your sentiments. The question was rhetorical.

Rob Weaver
09-19-2006, 06:25 AM
How many reenacting organizations have been formed in an attempt to "rise above the politics" then sink into the current of it eventually. The reason is that it's inavoidable. Aristotle observed that "man is a political animal;" it's in our nature to organize, define, defend, etc. Our hobbies aren't immune. There's also an expression: "The reason local politics are so vicious is that there is so little at stake." I think this applies to hobbies as well. If we were all ambassadors of countries sitting on a nuclear trigger button, we'd all be a lot more careful. But we're not. We forget just how ephemeral our controversies are, really. Do I jump into the nastiness? No, I don't think so. Do I like it? No, but I do understand it. And I can hear Gene Wilder's advice to Cleavon Little echoing in my ears: "What did you expect? "'Good morning, Sheriff?' 'Marry my daughter?' These are simple people. The salt of the earth. You know: morons." :D

hanktrent
09-19-2006, 07:41 AM
You remember that it's not your job to dictate how others reenact. All you can reasonably control is how you, yourself, reenact.

Forget about whether the other guy has on combat boots or modern glasses or has a cooler beside his tent. Shake your head, smile, and get on with what you are about, which is doing the best job you can at being what they were. Anything else is wasted effort, gaining no one anything of value.

I wish I could attend events and do that, because it would mean more and closer opportunities to reenact and less worry about trying to second-guess event guidelines. But here's what I don't understand. Literally, step-by-step, how do you do it?

Let's say I want to go to an event as a private soldier. I need someone to give me orders. What if no one does? How can I do my "best job"?

Say I want to leave camp. I need to get a pass. What if no one will write a pass because no one cares? Do I just wander off? That's not my "best job." Do I pretend I got a pass? Do I pretend I can't get a pass? What if everyone starts making fun of me because I'm worried about getting a pass?

And then night comes, and it's obvious there are no pickets out, even though the enemy was close enough to engage us today. Do I act worried? What do I do when everyone laughs at me for being worried? Do I volunteer for picket duty? Do I pretend there are pickets? What then if an enemy soldier wanders over and sits down at our campfire?

And it's not much different being a civilian. True, you're more autonomous and can generally ignore others if need be, so it's a little easier, but it's not normal to have fellow-citizens around you and pretend they aren't there. People like to interact.

But what do you do when you approach your fellow-citizens (or soldiers), or they approach you, and they're acting like crazy people, talking about some hobby they're in, when your "best job of being what they were" means focussing on this army that's taking your food and drinking your well dry? Do you pretend the other reenactors don't exist and make them angry because you snubbed them? Do you treat them like they're crazy until they leave you alone, but then attack you behind your back? Do you just give in and let them force you to do a lousy impression?

I don't understand how you can "do the best job of being what they were" without the support or cooperation of others. Literally, how does it work? It's why I find mainstream events so intimidating. Send me an email if it's too off-topic here.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

bill watson
09-19-2006, 08:34 AM
Hank sez: "Let's say I want to go to an event as a private soldier. I need someone to give me orders. What if no one does? How can I do my "best job"?"

You can't. Everyone at the event has to share the goal, all the time. Everyone has to be operational from start to finish. Making that the actual case is a job for the event organizers. They do it by making that expectation clear in their event announcements and standards and guidelines and by providing scenarios that require participants to be willing to go soldiering the entire time. Expectations regarding civilians would be part of that.

Once everyone at the event agrees that the reason they are there is to reenact, to operate in the moment, rather than to stage a spectacle for spectators or put on a play or have "down time" for shopping, you'll have what you're looking for, functionality. That means the fellow who is the company commander is the company commander from Friday night until go-home time on Sunday. And he knows that arrangements have to be made when people want to leave camp. He might even decide you're not going to leave. :-)

It seems some folks sometimes don't know what's expected of them in their various roles and some, even after going back and reading Kautz and doing other research, can't actually translate that into a set of activities and attitudes for a reenacting weekend. Yes, some don't know and don't research and don't care, but quite a few do. Even after the research, how does it translate? A quartermaster and a sergeant major, for instance, both had huge jobs in the "real" army, but in the compressed time of a weekend, what actually can they do to function realistically and effectively and help make their regiment a going concern, capable of maneuvering, marching, setting up a bivouac, feeding itself, all the things that make a weekend reenacting rather than something else? (That's a rhetorical question, no answers actually expected.) Anyway, it seems like maybe we ought to structure events around the experience to get what a great many of us are looking for. That's not going to come by the constituencies that are well served by the existing paradigms, including the paradigm of the noble
hardcore splinter group laboring on in isolation content to know it is true to the vision and everyone else is a Philistine. They will all tend to defend their own interpretation of reenacting: for the family, for the socializing, for the beer, for a new world order, whatever.
The paradigm shift is going to come from folks who are on the edge, who are not satisfied, and who can come up with a better idea that is visibly better, easy to implement, has no downside and is easy to grasp.








Say I want to leave camp. I need to get a pass. What if no one will write a pass because no one cares? Do I just wander off? That's not my "best job." Do I pretend I got a pass? Do I pretend I can't get a pass? What if everyone starts making fun of me because I'm worried about getting a pass?

And then night comes, and it's obvious there are no pickets out, even though the enemy was close enough to engage us today. Do I act worried? What do I do when everyone laughs at me for being worried? Do I volunteer for picket duty? Do I pretend there are pickets? What then if an enemy soldier wanders over and sits down at our campfire?

And it's not much different being a civilian. True, you're more autonomous and can generally ignore others if need be, so it's a little easier, but it's not normal to have fellow-citizens around you and pretend they aren't there. People like to interact.

But what do you do when you approach your fellow-citizens (or soldiers), or they approach you, and they're acting like crazy people, talking about some hobby they're in, when your "best job of being what they were" means focussing on this army that's taking your food and drinking your well dry? Do you pretend the other reenactors don't exist and make them angry because you snubbed them? Do you treat them like they're crazy until they leave you alone, but then attack you behind your back? Do you just give in and let them force you to do a lousy impression?

I don't understand how you can "do the best job of being what they were" without the support or cooperation of others. Literally, how does it work? It's why I find mainstream events so intimidating. Send me an email if it's too off-topic here.

flattop32355
09-19-2006, 09:06 AM
I can hear Gene Wilder's advice to Cleavon Little echoing in my ears: "What did you expect? "'Good morning, Sheriff?' 'Marry my daughter?' These are simple people. The salt of the earth. You know: morons." :D

"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Pogo

DanSwitzer
09-19-2006, 11:36 AM
The only person we have total control or influence over is ourselves. Sure, this is a team sport and we rely upon each other to get our experience. We certainly spend enough time flapping our gums and punching our keys about what the hobby is all about; but is there a vision, one central statement or set of standards that governs and provides orthodoxy for the whole endeavor? No, there isn't. As I've heard a wise man say, this hobby is about "men going into the woods and playing guns." It is a very childlike activity which, even when played by children, led to many a disagreement. Just read the narratives of tactical events like TAG and Recon:
"I shot you!"
"No, you didn't! I shot you first!"
"No, I shot you!"
"No, you didn't!"
The man next to you more than likely has a very different set of reasons for being involved in this hobby than you do. He may have a whole different view of how authentic he wants to be and how authentic he is or you are. More than likely, he's where he wants to be, but your impression needs some work. Maybe not. Maybe he doesn't care. Maybe he likes this instead of paintball because he's too old and fat and slow and nearsighted to be any good at paintball and this activity allows him to burn real powder and call his own shots. Maybe Daddy never took him camping and this is his chance to do it. Maybe he likes to get out in the woods, drink beer, scratch unmentionable spots and pass gas in the company of the guys. Maybe you like to do any or all of these things. Okay, it's a free country ( kinda ) so what's wrong with any of this?

I am reminded of the advice of an old man who said to me one time "there isn't 'a hobby' but many hobbies going on out here" at an event. Maybe the lessons of the present day suggest to us some degree of tolerance is desirable or at least not insisting on telling anyone else how they ought to be spending their own free time. Believe it or not, I've actually read on another internet discussion board about how one particular guy thinks everyone he thinks is a farb should be driven off until there are only people who he thinks are "authentic" left in the hobby. I was a little unclear about whether they were to be allowed to live or not. Do we really need this jihaadist attitude in a hobby or pastime? And just where do nutjobs like that come from anyway? Is it desirable to have a guy like that downrange from you at a reenactment? When we get to the point that his is an acceptable attitude, we all need to move on to coin collecting or NASCAR before someone gets hurt.

Dan

bill watson
09-19-2006, 11:47 AM
"He may have a whole different view of how authentic he wants to be"

And I hope he exercises that in making his selection of events to attend. Surely there are plenty of events willing to accommodate people with wildly diverging ideas on how much authenticity is enough authenticity. Do you object to events that don't accommodate divergence like that?

From my perspective it's much easier to create events at which those attending share the same authenticity goals. Without that, somebody is going home unhappy.

DanSwitzer
09-19-2006, 12:19 PM
"He may have a whole different view of how authentic he wants to be"

And I hope he exercises that in making his selection of events to attend. Surely there are plenty of events willing to accommodate people with wildly diverging ideas on how much authenticity is enough authenticity. Do you object to events that don't accommodate divergence like that?

From my perspective it's much easier to create events at which those attending share the same authenticity goals. Without that, somebody is going home unhappy.

I hope he makes those choices as well. No, I don't object to events that offer a more selective or restrictive range of impressons or guidelines. What I am saying is that we should let the market decide and let the market be as wide as it needs to be to satisfy the consumer. I prefer a range of choices. I don't always want a vanilla milkshake. Peach is good and chocolate can be danged good, too. Pie can be good, too, when you want something baked instead of shaken. I just get tired of the polemics of those who take on all who disagree with them. There is no "one way." In every herd of mules, there's always a couple who want to wander off and find their own blackberry patch.

Dan

bill watson
09-19-2006, 12:57 PM
gotcha. I'm tending to look at things more like an event organizer these days.

DanSwitzer
09-19-2006, 01:53 PM
gotcha. I'm tending to look at things more like an event organizer these days.

...looking at things from the standpoint of a consumer. We need each other and we both need the point of view each brings. You need to decide what you want to sell. I need to decide what I want as a consumer. In a sense, it's like a business. You may want to know in advance what I'm looking for and I may want to know in advance what you're offering so that we can have a meeting of the minds.

Make sense?

Dan

bill watson
09-19-2006, 09:44 PM
I'm willing to bet I can design an event you'd be willing to try. But the thing is, the final touch of the adjustment screw, is that you need to stop being a consumer and instead be an investor. It's a tiny change in mindset with profound results in behavior. You are still intensely interested in the nature of the event, but you are also willing to help make it happen with your own choice of attitudes and activities.
More as things evolve. It's early days yet.

flattop32355
09-21-2006, 04:52 PM
I'm willing to bet I can design an event you'd be willing to try. But the thing is, the final touch of the adjustment screw, is that you need to stop being a consumer and instead be an investor. It's a tiny change in mindset with profound results in behavior. You are still intensely interested in the nature of the event, but you are also willing to help make it happen with your own choice of attitudes and activities.

Something like the difference in going to a play, expecting to be entertained by what goes on up on the stage, and going to a play where the audience is expected to interact with the performers. The former requires only passive attention, while the latter requires active participation.

And if one likes, one can go full bore and become one of the actors. If so, you have to know the script.

Rob Weaver
09-26-2006, 06:29 AM
Say I want to leave camp. I need to get a pass. What if no one will write a pass because no one cares? Do I just wander off? That's not my "best job." Do I pretend I got a pass? Do I pretend I can't get a pass? What if everyone starts making fun of me because I'm worried about getting a pass?

I just edited to get down to one example. All the things you cite are interesting parts of the reenacting experience, but I would say that they're not part of every reenacting event. If you go looking for them in places where they're not routinely done, you're going to disappoint yourself. Event organizers aren't the only ones who need to be clear about their desires and objectives. Pesonal story: At a c/p/h event, I sliver up a piece of fatback, pull a little bottle of carefully hoarded vinegar out of my haversack, pour it on it and eat it. Other people say "That's cool." I perform the same culinary miracle at a living history on the lawn at some local museum, across the street from McDonalds, and both spectators and participants are likely to say "Why are you eating that garbage?" It's out of step with the (unstated) goals. There are many ways to do the hobby, and knowing which one is appropriate for the moment sometimes makes the difference between enjoyment and frustration.

hanktrent
09-26-2006, 11:19 AM
It's out of step with the (unstated) goals. There are many ways to do the hobby, and knowing which one is appropriate for the moment sometimes makes the difference between enjoyment and frustration.

Well, that's been my belief, but there are posters who talk about being able to attempt one's personal best at accuracy, at any event. I'm trying to understand what they mean and how to do it.

I can see some reasons to deliberately compromise on accuracy, like for the greater goal of public education, and of course the usual safety and health considerations. But I wouldn't want to go to an event, planning to deliberately make mistakes in accuracy just to fit in, because, for one, I'd find it a boring way to spend an event, and two, lord knows I make enough mistakes on my own anyway. :)

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

toptimlrd
09-26-2006, 12:10 PM
I can see some reasons to deliberately compromise on accuracy, like for the greater goal of public education,

Hank,

You piqued my curiosity with this comment; what compromises are you referring to for the greater goal of public education? Ordinarily, this is one area where I try my best to be as accurate as possible, or are you referring to such mundane things as the wearing of brass that was not very common? For an example, I have a fully dressed out Hardee and I have my frock set for shoulder scales which I use for specific arenas such as public talks and demonstrations and more "formal" occasions such as memorial services etc. This is something I would not wear on the field unless the scenario dictated it.

hanktrent
09-26-2006, 02:38 PM
You piqued my curiosity with this comment; what compromises are you referring to for the greater goal of public education?

Some random examples:

--Allowing free entry of spectators through the picket line and communication with officers, prisoners under guard, or others who would normally be inaccessible without good reason.

--Cleaning up the atmosphere of a military camp to make it appropriate for spectators' sensibilities, if necessary. I mean, if historically the army would have been camped in isolation and was stressed and tired and dirty, rather than portraying that "raw," it would get modified with no swearing in front of children, no too-realistic display of anger or hostility, no urinating in public or use of barely screened dug sinks, no nudity when washing or changing clothes, etc.

--Pausing in duties to converse with spectators, when historically the duties would have taken priority.

--Planning activities in such a way to make educational things happen so spectators will benefit, with appropriate announcements and narration to make them accessible, rather than just having them happen at 6 a.m., midnight, on the spur of the moment, in a hard-to-find location, or other ways they might have happened historically.

--Posing for pictures, or giving modern help like pointing out where spectators can access water or bathrooms or find a schedule. If interpreting in first person, adapting period behavior to the modern concerns of reading the audience, being approachable and friendly, making sure there's enough context to understand what you're saying, etc. If interpreting in third person, all of the above plus talking about things a soldier wouldn't have known about.

I think all the above things are well worth compromising on, to educate visitors, give them a pleasant experience, foster good public relations, etc. but they are compromises in historical accuracy, specifically to accomplish those goals.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

toptimlrd
09-27-2006, 09:23 AM
Now I understand. Thanks, all of that makes perfect sense. I guess I just couldn't get my head around the comment at first.